Franz Biebl - "Ave Maria"
Franz Xaver Biebl was a German composer of classical music. Most of his compositions were for choral ensembles.
Biebl was born in Pursruck, now part of Freudenberg, Bavaria, in 1906. He studied composition at the Musikhochschule in Munich. Biebl served as Choir Director at the Catholic church of St Maria in Mínchen-Thalkirchen from 1932 until 1939, and as an assistant professor of choral music at the Mozarteum, an academy of music in Salzburg, Austria, beginning in 1939, where he taught voice and music theory.
Biebl was drafted into the military beginning in 1943 during World War II. He was a prisoner of war from 1944 to 1946, being detained at Fort Custer in Battle Creek, Michigan. After the war, he moved from Austria to Fírstenfeldbruck, Germany, where he served as director of the town chorus.
Biebl's best-known work is his Ave Maria (1964), which sets portions of the Angelus as well as the Ave Maria. The piece was brought to the United States by the Cornell University Glee Club in 1970. The ensemble met Biebl while on tour in Germany, during a recording session at a radio network where Biebl was music director. Conductor Thomas A. Sokol was given a number of Biebl's works, premiering them after returning home. The Ave Maria quickly gained popularity, most notably after becoming part of the repertoire of Chanticleer. Although it was originally scored for male voices, after "Ave Maria" became popular the composer himself rearranged the piece for SATB and SSA choirs as well.
This song has had so much meaning for me over the years. One of the first (of many) choral works I fell in love with. There is something intangible here. Something in the song goes beyond the notes, rhythms, and music, and into the ethereal and quite possibly the divine. Biebl found something in this piece, a divinity not often seen in todays music.
Although it is not traditionally a holiday song, it rings true for me in the season. The season where the divine comes down to earth and shines a light onto our path through the darkness. This season, find your divinity, be someone’s light.
So today, with a lantern in my heart, I choose Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” as my, remember the warm moments, hold on to the spirit, let the divine flow through you, song for a, walk a little taller, see the gold in the clouds, find the magic that’s swirling all around you, Tuesday.
I’m giving you both Chanticleer and Voces8 version. They are each lovely and striking in their own ways.